Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just Another Tool

Slowly but surely iPads are beginning to make more of an appearance in our 4th and 5th grade classrooms.  I am finding the device useful in two ways.  The first is how handy it is when facilitating conversations, and the second is how it enhances collaboration among students.

We recently began our study of Morocco.  I have been using my iPad, connected to the Smart Board, to maneuver between Google Earth, YouTube, and an app called Elementals. We have been discussing the chemistry of food through Moroccan cooking starting with an exploration of the Moroccan tea ritual.  I asked my students to consider whether the creation of the tea was a physical or chemical change.  We watched a number of videos on YouTube, found the locations of where the video was recorded on Google Earth, and explored some of the elements that create the ingredients on Elementals.  We have also baked a number of goodies to explore chemical change.  Alton Brown's Good Eats continues to be a wonderful resource.  Moving between each of these applications is much easier on the iPad than on the laptop, and have let us focus on conversations that come from having seamless access to these online apps.

In math class we continue to use Math Drills and Puzzled Lite. We are using Google searches to start researching the authors of our Literature books.  We have also continued to use Voice Thread but have added PuppetPals to the toolbox so student may share the books they are reading.  Some have even attempted to use 123D Sculpt to create the main characters of their books but have found the app challenging.  I have noticed that the energy our students bring to these tasks is much more potent than when they used blank sheets, photocopied papers, or laptops.  I have also observed that students are more willing to extend their thinking and to welcome new ideas.  I feel the dynamic nature of the iPad, moving from app to app, mimics the flexibility we want our young thinkers to possess.

Check out this article, iPads Changing The Game For Learning At Longfield
It focuses on a school that has provided an iPad for each student!  They received overwhelming support from the local community, and explain how the devices empower all students to learn regardless of socioeconomic status, age, etc.  The educators also note that the iPads allow the natural tendency of sharing to take place.  

After we re-vision how students share and gather information we can remodel the space this important work takes place in.  Let me know what do you think of this radical idea:   

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great post, Tim. I love hearing about what you are doing in 4-5; I think one piece of the iPad implementation the is so interesting (perhaps because it was unexpected) is the aspect of increased collaboration. I, too, have found that when I have used the iPads in the classroom, students are often eager to work together or share ideas.
    As for the school in Sweden, I think that is the direction that more schools need to head as far as redefining the classroom environment, however I might choose a different architect. It looks a bit too much like a museum of modern art. Where are the plants?